Physics 12 Provincial Exam
Note: this guide was written for the 2004-2005 provincial exams and will not be updated.
Physics is one of the three main science courses offered in BC high schools. You’ll need to have take Physics 12 if you want to go into science or engineering in post secondary. Depending on certain factors, Physics 12 might be the easiest science course you’ll have or your worst nightmare. Hopefully this page will give you enough help so you can avoid the latter situation.
Physics 12 is basically a review and continuation of the Physics 11 course. You need to take Physics 11 before you can take Physics 12, and I also believe that you need have a grade 11 level math course as a prerequisite. Here is the stuff you learn in the Physics 12.
Torque and Equilibrium: This unit contains concepts you probably haven’t learned before. You’ll learn about torque and different types of equilibrium. Applications of these concepts include how to balance a seesaw or how to hang a chandelier so that it doesn’t fall down etc.
Kinematics: You should have already learned this stuff in Physics 11. This is basically a review of those concepts. By the way, for those of you who don’t know, kinematics is the study of how objects move and things you will see in these calculations include speed, velocity, acceleration, and distance.
Dynamics: You probably learned a little bit of his stuff as well in Physics 11, but you’ll study this subject in more depth. In this unit you’ll work with forces, work, energy, power, momentum and other things related to dynamics (why objects move).
Circular Motion and Gravitation: In this unit you’ll learn about how and why objects move in a circle. You’ll also learn about gravitation, which is related to circular motion. After all, the moon moves in a roughly circular orbit around the Earth because of gravity.
Electrostatics: This unit will probably be completely new to you. In this unit, you’ll learn about how charged particles react to one another and the formulas and equations that are involved.
Circuits: Wee!! Circuits!!! You probably studied a bit on circuits in the lower grade science courses. The circuits unit in Physics 12 is a bit harder, but you are still working with pretty simple circuits. In this unit, you’ll learn about how to draw circuit diagrams, calculate quantities and learn the all important Jerkof… I mean Kirchhoff’s Laws.
Magnetism: The last unit of the year teaches you about magnetic fields and what sort of things can generate a magnetic field. You’ll also learn how magnetic field can create electricity; how electric generators work and how a transformer (no, not the Autobot and Decepticon type of transformers) works.
Physics 12 is a pretty demanding academic course that gives plenty of homework assignments, quizzes, tests and exams. Like all science courses, there will also be a number of labs that you have to do. On top of all that, your teacher may feel like giving you some projects, from mundane things like presentations to creative construction such as building a spaghetti bridge (I did, and my team won the competition). Oh, and expect some notes and lecture classes as well, since there is a fair bit of stuff to go over in the course.
Course Analysis and Tips
If you read my guides on Biology 12 and Chemistry 12, you know that Biology is all about memorization while Chemistry is memorization and calculation put together. Physics 12, in my opinion, is all about calculations. Yes there is a bit of theory that you have to learn, and there are quite a number of formulas, but in most cases the formulas are available to you on paper (even during your provincial exam) and the theories are pretty simple. Basically, physics is pretty much just applied mathematics, since you use mathematical operations to calculate quantities such as velocity, force, electric field, and more. For those of you who are strong at math, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with this course, as long as you are able to understand the concepts. For those who are not so good at math, I’ll say this: the math involved in Physics 12 is not nearly as advanced as those you learn in Principles of Mathematics 12, which is a pretty easy course (at least to me). If you know your basic mathematical operations and know your roots and powers, then you got everything you need to do the calculations in Physics 12. Unlike Chemistry, you also don’t have to worry about significant digits, since the provincial requires 2 or 3 significant figures to any answer, and your teacher probably will follow that rule, which makes your life easier.
Of course, being able to understand the underlying theories and concepts is also very important. This is why you should show up to class and pay attention. If you really don’t get something, ask your teacher and/or a more knowledgeable classmate. Assuming that you managed to pass Physics 11, Physics 12 should be only “half new” to you since you have already seen half of the material in this course. The sections that tend to get students are the new sections, such as torque, electrostatics, and magnetism. The first unit, torque and equilibrium, seems to be the worst, at least it was in my Physics 12 class. People couldn’t get the concept or didn’t bother to study, and so on the unit test my class got a failing (<50%) average. Lucky for me, I studied and didn't come even close to failing, since Physics is one of my best subjects. The lesson here is that you should be extra careful when brand new material is taught so that you don't get left behind. Physics 12, being an academic course, isn't really that interesting. My physics classes usually involved going over notes or writing a quiz, test, or exam, with some lab days mixed in between. There are a lot of quizzes, tests and exams in Physics 12, so make sure you study up on your materials, since your teacher might be inclined to give your class a pop quiz. Most of your school marks will come from tests and exams too, like all other science and math courses. When studying, use the notes that the teacher gave you (or your own notes). Try to do some practice questions while you are at it. If you do these things, do your homework, show up for class and pay attention, you should at least be able to pass Physics 12, and all other courses for that matter.
The Physics 12 Provincial Exam is made up of two main sections. Section 1 contains 30 multiple choice questions that are worth two marks each. Section 2 contains around 8 written answer questions. The grand total should be around 90 marks. Note that this is the spec of the exam I wrote and the Ministry might have changed the specs at your time of reading. Like all provincials, you have two hours plus an extra 30 minutes to complete the exam. Visit the Ministry’s website for official exam specifications.
Exam Analysis and Tips
The Physics 12 exam tests you on everything that you will or have learned in the course of Physics 12. To study for this exam, look over all your notes (made by yourself or the teacher), especially those talking about how to use the formulas. You don’t actually have to remember all the formulas since they are provided on a data sheet inside the exam booklet. The best way to practice for the exam is to download old exams off the web and do them. QuizmeBC also offer free online quizzes made up of old provincial M/C questions on the Physics 12 exam.
The Physics 12 exam itself is actually very short. There are only 30 multiple choice questions, which is half of the number of M/C questions you’ll encounter on the Chemistry or Biology exams. The M/C is a mix of theory questions and calculation questions. All of them are pretty easy if you know your stuff and they shouldn’t take very long for you to finish. As always, general multiple choice taking strategies such as don’t take too long on one question; read the question carefully and don’t leave any answers blank apply to this section.
The written section isn’t very difficult either. There will be one or two theory questions that require you to write a paragraph to explain a situation, or draw a diagram and such. Most of the written section, however, is made up calculation questions. There will be a space under every calculation question for you to show your work, and you definitely should. Make sure you write clearly and legibly, list your values and formulas, and don’t skip any steps in your calculations, since marks may be given based on whether or not a step is present in your calculation. When putting down the final answer, make sure you put down the correct units (N, kg, J etc.) and put your answers in two or three significant digit as the exam asks of you.
Because the exam is so short, you should be able finish way ahead of the two hours recommended time, and when you finish, make sure you check your answers over at least once. I think I left the exam room after an hour and a half, and that includes checking, and there were people who left before me. You don’t have to rush things though. Do the questions at a pace that you feel comfortable at, as long as you are able to finish within two and a half hours. I think that the Physics 12 exam is probably the easiest of the three science exams, even though my Physics score was actually lower than my scores on Biology and Chemistry (but only by very little). You might think otherwise but as long as you have an okay mathematical background and understand the concepts, the course and the exam shouldn’t be too hard for you.